After my last post on prepping and cooking food ahead to save time, here is my post on how to use the freezer and how to store Indian food in the freezer, as requested by Kuntala.
I have jotted down everything that I do and everything that helps me go through the days with my injured hand and shoulder that have a tendency to act up at times.
A little planning ahead helps me sail through such days.
** When using the freezer compartment to store food, do remember to set it at a good temperature.
Also do take into account if there are frequent power cuts in your area. Do not freeze things for a long time if you have frequent and long power cuts.
Your food should freeze well to be able to stay well till you are ready to use it.
** Buy a good number of ice trays. I buy the ones with a cover so that it is easy to sit one above the other. Also the smell does not spread all through the freezer compartment.
** Make lemonade and freeze.
Just add chilled water when you are back home and you have a wonderful glass ready! Just sit back and rest awhile with this on a hot day.
** Wet ground masalas like grated ginger ( plain ginger when ground into a paste will turn bitter very fast ), garlic paste, mustard paste, tomato paste, posto paste stay very well when frozen.
** Cook a batch of gravy maslala (fry onion paste + ginger paste + garlic paste + turmeric + red chilli powder) in bulk and freeze.
Use a couple of cubes for your fish or chicken or mutton curries.
Or even a vegetarian dish like the Aloo dum too.
** If you have the inclination, you can buy green peas when in season, peel, blanch them and freeze too.
** Fry fish and store in different containers.
I have tried freezing them raw ... but have noticed a change in taste. So always fry them first.
Divide fish , chicken or mutton into batches ... different pieces for different kinds of dishes.
** Label the containers so that you need not open every one of them every time.
I use a marker to write.
This way you are planning a menu ahead and will help you save a lot of time.
** Boil dals with salt and turmeric and freeze in batches ... depending on the amount you will be needing.
** If you have a big quantity of grated coconut, then freeze it.
Use the frozen coconut in curries, dals, etc. where it will cook well.
If you want to use grated coconut fresh, then just refrigerate it in a tightly closed container.
** You can make rotis and parathas and freeze too. I personally have not tried doing this but have seen many of my friends do so.
** If you have shelves in your freezer, use them to store different kinds of flours.
I store maida, jowar flour, bajra flour, rice flour, besan etc.
Since these are not used daily, once a packet is open, chances of them getting spoiled increase.
The dry air in the freezer is perfect for the flours ... and no fear of them getting moisture or fungus and of course are safe from insects like ants, etc.
** Freeze paneer or freshly made chenna. You can make parathas or bhurji out of it.
** I also freeze left over gravies from mutton or chicken curries. Use them later in dals or just boil eggs and add to them and you have a quick dish ready.
** You can freeze boiled noodles or macaroni too. Just remember to give them a good rub of oil so they don't stick together.
Thaw well before using.
** Curries and gravies freeze very well. Chana, chola, rajma, chicken, egg ... everything.
** You can freeze cooked rice too.
Just remember to thaw it well and steam it instead of using the microwave oven.
Fill a big pan with water, put the cooked and frozen rice in a sieve container ... not plastic ... and sit it on the pan. Cover it. When the water starts to boil, let it sit on low heat till the rice is heated well.
**Always freeze in batches.
** Never refreeze food after thawing. Do not store it in the fridge too.
Use it up.
Hope this will be of help.
I will try to update this post as much as possible.
Do check out my post on how to prep and store vegetables and tips on kitchen time management.
Today's recipe is a simple stir fry made with the Pui shaak or the Malabar spinach. This is from the batch that I had picked up at Bangalore.
The shaak was so darned fresh that I made a stir fry out of it the first day. I used the tender leaves from the top of the stems and did not chop them up too.
Used some of the stems or daata too ... only the tender ones.
Pui shaak - cleaned and roughly chopped, 3 cups
Onion - 1, sliced
Nigella seeds / Kalo jeere - 1 tsp
Dry red chillies - 2, broken
Tumeric powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Grated ginger - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Cooking oil - 1 tsp ( I use mustard oil )
How to :
Add the nigella seeds + red chillies.
Add the sliced onions and fry till they turn translucent.
Now add the ginger and fry a little ... not too much.
Add the pui and the haldi and stir well.
Add salt and sugar.
Cover and cook till done.
Sprinkle the red chilli powder and give a good mix.
Remove from heat.
Serve hot with rice.